If you love #ttrpg I highly recommend looking it up.
I still have most of my print copies of the magazine around here. I loved Polyhedron and the Role Playing Game Association up into the Wizards of the Coast years. Here is a link to the Internet Archives. These magazines are part of gaming history alone with a veritable treasure trove of articles on a wide range of RPG topics.
Fair warning: you do have to slog through some of the RPGA bunk such as tournament results and specific club related articles. The ads are nostalgic T$R. A lot of the modules and tournaments are still useable in D&D today with just a bit of conversion. Some of the company’s best writers sidelined in Poly at different times.
Polyhedron was sort of the farm team for Dragon and Dungeon magazines.
A good number of writers aspired to work for Dragon magazine back in the old days. One of the best and at that time only ways to really break into the RPG industry as a writer was to get published in Dragon or possibly Dungeon. It definitely looked great on one’s resume back then. An RPGA membership and writing credit in Polyhedron was a good foot in the door.
I sat in on a number of writer’s workshops when I went to Gen Con many, many years ago. One of my first questions was always, “Where is the best place to start?” I took a lot of notes. I also met a lot of cool notables in the industry.
I was also fortunate enough to share a table with some of the RPGA notables at a few local conventions. Jim and Tom both gave me a lot of great advice on running a convention game and specifically running RPGA tournament modules. Those were truly good times.
Side note: If you have never been to a convention, I highly recommend trying it at least once. Not only do you meet a wider variety of players and game masters, but you get to occasionally bump into some big names in the industry. You also get to try out all kinds of neat games! Nowadays, WotC isn't the only company in the industry with big names in RPG design. Actual Play podcasters and notables also occasionally make con appearances. Either online on in-person, conventions are usually worth the price of admission, even for a day. Don't forget to visit the vendor's room.
The RPGA used to welcome tournament submissions from a wider variety of games than just D&D.
Before WotC got ahold of T$R, the RPGA used to cater to a wider variety of games than just D&D. Much like Dragon, Polyhedron dwindled down slowly over the years from a variety of games ranging from D&D all the way through Marvel Super Heroes, Star Wars (West End,) Star Frontiers, Battletech, Gamma World, and Boot Hill. Top Secret S.I. and some other T$R properties were on the list. There were also some broad-ranging articles that could apply to any system.
I ran RPGA sanctioned Cyberpunk and Star Wars events at a convention. Back in those days, the industry was a great deal less competitive than it is now. Even though not everything was a T$R product, many were welcomed to the table in the name of camaraderie, fun, and role playing.
Sad to say I miss the magazine more than the organization.
It’s also why I don’t participate in the 5E Adventurers’ League, aside from some of the DM horror stories I hear about their content. The RPGA was always a bit too full of itself. It also had the tendency to bring out a real ugly side of people when it came to points, loot, and social status. I just want to run a fun game then and now.
After WotC took over, as you may have surmised by now, Polyhedron and Dragon became strictly current edition D&D. The ads were all aimed at D&D and other WotC products for the most part. Toward the very end, everything was just another promotion for the latest D&D product. I say this with all the love in the world: There are other games out there besides D&D.
Online/PDF ‘zines just don’t have the same look and feel to them for some reason.
Hey, my heart goes out to anyone producing an online PDF or other format magazine these days. It’s not like back when Polyhedron was huge and there was no Internet or professional trade publications to really compete with. I collected a few fanzines back in those days, but none came close to T$R quality.
The look was what we now think of as OSR. Mostly black and white artwork, reasonably cheap printing, and works of love by fans; some of whom happened to be T$R staffers. There was also an air of discovery. Tons of blogs and articles cover the same topics that originally appeared in those early ‘zines from “How to run a fun game,” to “What to do when D&D combat gets stale.” These types of articles are commonplace now.
So many resources that we take for granted now just weren’t available back then. There’s no need for a D&D trade magazine now. That goes for Dragon and Polyhedron. We also have lots of apps and sites such as Patreon to fill the same niches from various indie creators for about the same price we used to pay back in the day.
Would it fly now?
I’d have to say it’s unlikely. Even if it were an email newsletter or website, a ‘zine dedicated strictly to articles about D&D and related WotC content just doesn’t have the same appeal. With One D&D and the new VTT D&D Beyond coming, I feel like ‘zine style content is going to be more on the decline.
Now, that’s not to say a more generic fanzines or Gongfarmer’s Almanac, the Dungeon Crawl Classics (Unofficial) ‘zine don’t sell. There are fanzines likewise dedicated to OSR content all over the web that seem to be doing okay.
WIth approximately 50 million or more RPG fans in the world, I’d say the interest might still be there. If someone could pull together OGL content from a variety of sources and combine it with some general articles, fiction, and maybe some comic strips, it might do okay. But it will never have the official support that T$R and WotC gave to Polyhedron. Having really the only official club in the industry makes a bit of difference.
Lots of love to anyone who tries it, though. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Game on.